Communicating in May

Your May newsletter for language and literacy

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. For some of us, it's more aptly considered better communicating month. If you work with students who are nonverbal or minimally verbal, your focus is likely on building language and communication skills. This month, I'm sending you a handout on increasing the number of communication opportunities throughout your student's day.

Research indicates that we need to provide at least 200 opportunities each day for aac users to become effective communication system users. This seems like a lot to many people, but looking at all of the possibilities that exist in the average classroom for requesting, answering, asking, greeting, commenting, giving opinions, and more communication functions makes it more believable.

Many students are easily observed making requests and either rejecting or accepting. But other functions are less easily observed. Many students miss multiple opportunities every day.

Finding these Opportunities in the School Day:

There are many opportunities within the school day to engage kids in the practice of using their AAC systems. While some of these may be more “academic test” type interactions, rather than genuine communication interactions, they do provide some practice time. As much as possible, keep the interactions ‘real.” Give kids the opportunities to say what they want to say (not just respond to what you ask them). Make communication fun and interesting.

Some typical classroom activities:

Calendar and Opening Time Activities:

Identify who is present using pictures, Match pictures with names, Greet each other, Ask and Answer Questions (what day, what weather, other calendar questions), Word or Letter of the Day (generate names beginning with the letter), Make Choice of Song, Activity, Poem, etc.

Cooking and Snack Activities:

Make Choices, Ask How Much, Ask for More, Give Opinion (tastes good/bad, too salty - all comments), Give Directions

Game and Leisure Time:

Whose Turn, Count Spaces, Comment on the activity, Ask for More, Ask to Stop, Request Items and Actions, Ask for Help, Tell to Hurry Up or Wait, Give Directions or Ask For Them

Story Time or Shared/Guided Reading:

By using a Before-During-After format to book reading, Teachers create multiple opportunities for students to use AAC to respond to questions, identify story elements (character, setting, action), predict what’s next, give an opinion, ask teacher to turn the page or read it again. Within each of those activities (B-D-A), multiple chances for using the AAC system to respond, comment, request, and ask are created.

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Follow the link to read more and download the handout.

4 Steps to the Power of Communicating with AAC

Are you struggling with implementing AAC with your student? Do you know parents who are struggling to communicate with their child? Check out my on-line course. Self-paced, with 5 videos, multiple handouts, and a contained Facebook page for collaborating and supporting.